Previously known as Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) is a federal law that was enacted in 2014. It aims to protect victims and communities from exploitation. Based on the Nordic model, PCEPA does this by removing the criminal burden from the person who is being sexually exploited, and instead holds the users and perpetrators of these crimes criminally responsible. BridgeNorth played an important role in lobbying to have this law enacted and it now serves as a foundation for the work we do with and on behalf of those impacted by this crime. 

Watch recordings from when our Founder Casandra Diamond testified before the Parliamentary subcommittee on Justice and Human Rights in support of Bill C-36 becoming a law:

Casandra Diamond speaks at 9:33

Casandra Diamond speaks at 9:49

In Canada, the sex industry perpetuates pre-existing gender inequalities through the glamorization of sex as work. This fosters an environment in which women and girls become the product of a very lucrative business. In Ontario, the average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13. With the advent of social media, traffickers can easily access, lure, and groom young girls for the purpose of coercing them into providing sexual services to meet the high demand that exists. 

Criminalizing the purchasing of sex does help to reduce the demand for a sex industry in Canada, meaning that fewer individuals will be trapped in it. 

This is revolutionary legislation for Canada. PCEPA empowers victims by providing the language and legal framework needed to understand and treat what is happening as a crime. With this understanding, survivors are empowered to reach out for help and are provided legal remedy for crimes committed against them. This legislation appreciates that a large portion of those involved in the sex industry are victims of human trafficking and protects them by criminalizing those who fund it: the buyers, and those who profit: the traffickers.

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Whereas it is important to continue to denounce and prohibit the procurement of persons for the purpose of prostitution and the development of economic interests in the exploitation of the prostitution of others as well as the commercialization and institutionalization of prostitution;

The trauma experienced by those we serve requires specialized supports that often come at a significant financial cost. PCEPA has paved the way for the federal and provincial governments to provide critical financial support to anti-human trafficking initiatives and agencies like BridgeNorth.

PCEPA is an important step in the right direction for Canada. However, it is currently being challenged in The Supreme Court of Ontario by groups who want to have this law overturned. These groups believe that PCEPA causes further harm to those who are involved in the sex industry. This perspective does not acknowledge the violence against and objectification of women that is inherent in this industry.

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Whereas it is important to protect human dignity and the equality of all Canadians by discouraging prostitution, which has a disproportionate impact on women and children;

If PCEPA is overturned, the demand for sexual services would rise steeply as buyers are allowed to purchase sex without legal repercussions and traffickers exploit more individuals to feed this growing demand. BridgeNorth has been granted intervenor status in these court proceedings and will be advocating on behalf of those that PCEPA protects. For BridgeNorth and those we serve, PCEPA is a crucial piece in the fight to end sex trafficking in our province.

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